Posts Tagged “history revision”

Gustave Doré, Crusades, the Discovery of the True CrossLots of Christians are embarrassed by the Crusades, the series of military expeditions by western European Christians against Muslims (and on one occasion, eastern Christians) in the Middle East, in the name of reclaiming the Holy Land in the name of Jesus Christ. Most Christians these days dismiss them as but a momentary aberration, but they lasted from the final years of the 11th century, to the fall of Acre at the end of the 13th … so they can hardly be considered a single, discrete moment of collective Christian madness. Few Christians these days are capable of understanding what the Crusades were without waving them off as being “in the past,” and fewer still are willing even to talk about them very much.

While the subject of the Crusades makes Christians uncomfortable, it’s rare for them to explicitly and plainly lie about their nature. Yet that’s precisely what former Pennsylvania Senator and militant Christianist Rick Santorum did, however, as Politico explains (WebCite cached article):

Rick Santorum launched into a scathing attack on the left, charging during an appearance in South Carolina that the history of the Crusades has been corrupted by “the American left who hates Christendom.”

“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” Santorum said in Spartanburg on Tuesday. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.”

To say the Crusades were not an expression of Christian “aggression” is anti-factual and laughable. Of course they were! How could they not be? The massacre of Jerusalem in 1099 — to name just one event during the First Crusade — was most certainly “Christian aggression” — unnecessary, barbaric and horrifically excessive, at that. The list of other moments of “Christian aggression” that took place during the entire course of the long sequence of Crusades is long and bloody. For Santorum to deny their “aggression” means he’s either grossly ignorant of the Crusades, or a liar. (Or maybe both.)

Santorum’s idiotic diatribe included this revealing little snippet; referring to the concept of equality, Santorum said:

“It’s become part of our national religion, if you will,” he continued.

Uh, Rick … umm, you might want to read your First Amendment and see if you can digest the fact that the US cannot legally have a “national religion.” OK? And if you’re going to insist nonetheless that we do have one, I wish you the best of luck forcing me to worship it. Go ahead, Rick. Have at it. Make me follow your “national religion.”

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Don't tell us the F.F.s owned slaves (based on Gadsden flag, Don't tread on us)Tea Partiers in the great state of Tennessee have decided — as the militant Christianists in Texas have already done — that schools aren’t teaching history correctly. The Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal reports on a list of demands they’ve made of their state legislature (WebCite cached article):

Members of Tennessee tea parties presented state legislators with five priorities for action Wednesday, including “rejecting” the federal health reform act, establishing an elected “chief litigator” for the state and “educating students the truth about America.”

Railing and caterwauling about healthcare reform is, of course, standard fare among tea partiers. And whining about state litigation is, too. Neither of these really is unexpected or novel, then, in light of what the tea partiers have already been doing. What’s alarming is what they demand be done in the TN’s public schools:

Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.” …

The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

TN’s tea partiers, then, don’t want to hear about anything bad about the Founding Fathers. And they don’t want their kids to have to study about those “minorities.” Their complaint is based on their own perceptions about how American history is being taught:

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds, whose website identifies him as a Vietnam War veteran of the Air Force and FedEx retiree who became a lawyer in 1995.

The problem, of course, is that every school in the country already teaches that the F.F.s were “revolutionaries” and that they promoted their own vision of liberty. Their revolutionary nature is clearly implied, for instance, in calling the U.S. war for independence as “the American Revolution.” Moreover, mentioning that the F.F.s owned slaves, does absolutely nothing to change that. To teach both the good and the bad about the F.F.s is not wrong — if anything it’s the right thing to do.

TN’s tea partiers are trying to set up something of a “Founding Father cult” in which the F.F.s end up being venerated as saints or worshipped as demigods … bigger than life, having lived perfect lives, virtuous beyond compare. This flies in the face of reality, however; we all know that no human being is perfect, not even the F.F.s, and to suggest they were perfect, does both them and TN’s school children a disservice.

Also, the choice to do make this demand just before Martin Luther King’s birthday may be coincidental, or it might have been an intended slap at the Martin Luther King Day holiday, a frequent target of complaints about “political correctness.” I just don’t know.

It’s time for tea partiers to fucking grow up for the first time in their lives and stop screaming and wailing that history isn’t what they demand it was.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.

Photo credit: My own modified version of the Gadsden flag, from Wikimedia Commons.

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The campaign to inject religion — specifically, protestant evangelical Christianity — into the nation’s public schools ran into a bit of a snag a few years ago, when “intelligent design” was found by a federal court to have been a fraudulent cover for “creationism,” which itself had been ruled a religion. Of course, they haven’t given up — religionazis don’t know how to give up! — but they’ve changed tactics.

Instead of trying to get their religion into public-school science classrooms via the “intelligent design” scam, they’re now working instead on getting it into history classrooms. The (UK) Guardian reports on one such effort that’s well under way in Texas:

The Christian right is making a fresh push to force religion onto the school curriculum in Texas with the state’s education board about to consider recommendations that children be taught that there would be no United States if it had not been for God.

Members of a panel of experts appointed by the board to revise the state’s history curriculum, who include a Christian fundamentalist preacher who says he is fighting a war for America’s moral soul, want lessons to emphasise the part played by Christianity in the founding of the US and that religion is a civic virtue.

Opponents have decried the move as an attempt to insert religious teachings in to the classroom by stealth, similar to the Christian right’s partially successful attempt to limit the teaching of evolution in biology lessons in Texas.

Having a degree in history I find this effort repugnant. Religionists typically believe themselves to possess credentials in the field of history, merely by virtue of their beliefs. The truth is, they have no understanding of the subject. And their lack of understanding is betrayed by the claims they make about this effort.

There is nothing about Christianity that made the development of democracy in the US inevitable. Christian doctrine does not acknowledge any role for “the people” or “the masses” to control anything — ever.

The only forms of government dealt with in the Bible, are monarchies (e.g. when the Hebrews were in Egypt, and later their own monarchy which became two), tribal confederations (i.e. the Judges period), and then in the New Testament, the Roman state. In the Bible and other writings, Christians are exhorted to obey the authorities whom God has ordained (cf e.g. Romans 13:1-3). These orders to Christians further the cause of autocracy and dictatorship, rather than democracy, and do not even allow for a vox populi to guide the state.

Later in the Middle Ages, in western Europe, Christianity enveloped itself around the notion of monarchies. The coronation of monarchs and princes, for instance, became a religious rite (even though it was never called a “sacrament”). The same was true even for lower levels of nobility … being named a knight, for instance, often included the saying of a Mass. For centuries, far from agitating for democracy, Christianity wrapped its tentacles around western Europe’s feudal system and clamped down on it, controlling it whenever and wherever possible.

In the eastern Roman Empire, the state was even more closely tied to Christianity. Byzantine emperors meddled in religious affairs regularly, and for the most part, either appointed patriarchs and bishops, or were consulted on their appointment. Many ministers of the Byzantine government were themselves clergy or oblates in service to the Church.

These history-revising religionazis also have a twisted notion of historical causation. While the majority of the colonial population was Christian, this does not mean their Christian beliefs brought about democracy there. It merely means that most of those who decided to build a democracy, were Christians. It doesn’t mean any more than that.

If anyone thinks children are well-served by Texas’s current Bible-thumper-run public education system, the Guardian article makes a sound point:

There’s no doubt that history education needs a boost in Texas.

According to test results, one-third of students think the Magna Carta was signed by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and 40% believe Lincoln’s 1863 emancipation proclamation was made nearly 90 years earlier at the constitutional convention.

Way to go, Texas fundies. Y’all’re teachin’ dem dere chilluns ’bout Gawd ‘n’ all … but y’all’re fogittin’ da udder stuff dey needs ta know.

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